Following the release of their Folk hop N’Roll Deluxe album in 2017, Judah and the Lion set sail on the second leg of their Going to Mars tour. The Nashville alternative band rose to fame with “Take It All Back,” which introduced the eclectic folk and pop tune with the sounds of the band’s banjo player Nate Zuercher, guitarist Brian Macdonald and lead singer Judah Akers.
Prior to announcing their headlining tour across the United States, Judah and the Lion was the opening band for Twenty One Pilots’ final Emotional Roadshow tour. After they opened for Twenty One Pilots, the band gained a dedicated fan base, known as the Pride, among the “Clique” from the Columbus duo.
On March 3, the Tennessee band brought their spunky and high-energy show to the Moon in Tallahassee, Florida. This show was far from boring and had the whole crowd screaming to every lyric. The venue itself hinted that this was going to be a special show. Even the lead singer of one of the opening bands, Colony House, mentioned the irony of the atmosphere, saying that “we almost made it to Mars but made a pit stop here first.” This was by far the most unique venue that I have seen Judah and the Lion play in. Thankfully for short people like me, there were plenty of platforms to stand on, so I could peer over the huge crowd.
The first opening band, Tall Heights, hailed from Boston, Massachusetts and brought a cool-pop tone mixed with cello music. Surprisingly, people were really excited for the opener. The Moon was packed well before they began, which is unusual for smaller venues like this. Tall Heights opened up with their song “River Wider” (a song I knew but didn’t know was associated with the band). Needless to say, they won my heart well before they started performing.
Following the calm sound of Tall Heights, Nashville-based band, Colony House, took the stage bringing a more indie-rock sound and a huge LED sign with their set. I had listened to some of their music before, but they really brought the thunder with their live performance. They basically turned the concert into a footloose and fancy-free dance party.
When Judah and the Lion were next to play, the atmosphere became eerie and monotonous as the 20 minutes wait ensued while they set the stage.
Suddenly, the venue went black and the three-man main event band ran out to perform a techno cover of T-Pain’s “Booty Wurk,” which is an ongoing tradition during their shows. Looking at the crowd, half were confused (mainly parents) and the other half knew exactly what was going on and freaked out. Judah and the Lion continued their show by playing a few songs from their older album, “Kids These Days,” then paused the show to bring three lucky fans on stage with them and sing The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” yet another tradition they bring along to every show.
Before the song “Going to Mars,” lead singer Akers gave a brief speech on their reason for making music. He and the rest of the band wanted to create a space where people can come together and forget all of their doubts and worries. He explained that their band wants to show people that they can do anything they put their mind to and nobody can ever stop them from reaching their goal. During the middle of the song, Akers fled the stage and stood on a barstool among the crowd to watch the audience sing the chorus of Going to Mars: “We can do anything we want.” The band’s humility and genuine kindness towards their fans reverberated throughout their performance, and that is a huge part of what makes their shows so enjoyable.
After performing their last song “Take it All Back,” Judah and the Lion left the stage then returned for an encore with all of the opening bands to sing “Happy Birthday” for anyone with a birthday in the crowd. They also sang a cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” where everyone connected shoulders as they sang
By the end of concert, your feet will definitely ache from jumping and your voice will be sore but was it all worth it? One hundred percent yes. This was my third time seeing Judah and the Lion and with every show they keep getting better. To see their evolution from just a small folk band from Tennessee to basically creating their own music genre and playing sold-out shows is incredible.
If you didn’t get a chance to catch them on tour this time but hang tight! Following their last song, Akers said that there is more booty-poppin’ music coming later this year.
All photos courtesy of the author, Cassandra Kuhn.